Magic Ramen

Serves 2 Serves 4

1/2 lb boneless beef (flank steak, etc.)
2 cups water
1 cup 2 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 tsp garlic salt 4 cloves garlic, minced
(added) 1 tbsp olive oil
(added) 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
(added) 1/4 tsp salt
(added) 1/4 tsp toasted sriracha powder
(added) 4 small golden beats, peeled and chopped
(added) 4 large radishes, thinly sliced
(added) 2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce (gf)
1/2 tsp hot sauce 1 tsp hot sauce (your favorite brand – we use Tapatio)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 head bok choi
1 large handful snow peas (cut in half)
1 handful bean sprouts radish sprouts
(added) 4 or 5 baby portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
Chopped cilantro, to taste


  • Sear the beef in a pan over high heat. Cook until the meat has desired done-ness and both sides are brown, let cool, then slice into very thin strips.
  • In a pan, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until slightly soft. Set aside.
  • In a pan, saute the diced golden beats in olive oil over medium high heat until semi-soft with a slightly browned exterior. Set aside.
  • In a medium or large stock pot, heat the water, chicken stock, bouillon cubes, garlic salt, black pepper, soy sauce, hot sauce, sriracha powder, red wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the sliced carrots and the dense base of the bok choi to the liquid and let simmer for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the noodles and let cook until the noodles are just done.
  • Add in the tops of the bok choi, golden beats, onion and garlic, and sliced beef sliced mushrooms. Stir and let cook for 1 minute.
  • Finally, add in the snow peas and radish slices. Once you’ve stirred everything together, remove from the heat.
  • Serve in large bowls and garnish with bean sprouts, green onion, and cilantro.

When we first decided to revisit and fine-tune old recipes, I knew that our ramen dish would be on the list. Since college, this has been a quick and easy, feel-good meal that I never had to think much about. I typically tossed a few extra ingredients into store bought ramen and voila! It was only later, when I started trying to make it from scratch, that I realized I had no clear notion of how to consistently produce the dish. Our first attempt at teasing out a working recipe for the blog was OK, but I honestly felt it could have been better. In addition, the pictures were pretty terrible, taken as they were at a time of day when the lighting was sub-par. With all that in mind, we went back and tweaked the recipe until we were far more satisfied, then took pictures that do the dish a little more justice.

In changing the recipe, we decided to drop the meat. I enjoy thin sliced steak in a hot bowl of ramen or pho, but it is certainly not a necessity. Sometimes it feels good to have a meatless go-to, and we decided ramen could fit that bill. Besides, it makes the process so much simpler, which is really in keeping with the spirit of the dish. In place of meat, we added a variety of new veggies, which we feel give better flavor and make the ramen more satisfyingly filling. The original recipe is above, with additions and substitutions noted so you can judge for yourself. We also kept the original post below, unedited, below.


For someone who sincerely loves cooking and food, there are very few foods I can eat a lot of in one sitting. I can graze on popcorn or jelly beans til the cows come home (or until I turn into a cow, whichever comes first). But it’s rare that I find an actual meal that I’ll finish and then request seconds of. I have one of those bodies that fills up quickly on a small portion – but then proceeds to announce its desperate hunger again only a couple of hours later. So when James made his “magic ramen” recipe for me for the first time last week and I quickly inhaled the first bowl and returned for another helping, we both knew that we had a real winner of a dish.

James had mentioned this magic ramen dish a few times before, namely as a favorite of his during his college days. I already knew that ramen could be more than a prepackaged vehicle for sodium and MSG – my mom has a few recipes where she uses the noodles as part of a stir fry and just doesn’t add the package of flavoring that comes with them. But I knew that my own cooking efforts in college were less than inspiring (tortellini and chicken in olive oil, anyone?), so I wasn’t expecting an instant favorite when he offered to make it.

I also wasn’t expecting to ever be able to try this magical ramen. I figured that my last taste of that kinky noodle had gone the way of the dodo with my celiac diagnosis. So imagine my surprise when, on our most recent trip to Costco, we happened to come across an economy-sized bag of gluten free ramen!  They’re made of millet and brown rice, and while they’re a little softer and more delicate than the texture of glutenous ramen that I remember, they hold up quite well and are a breeze to cook.

We have now had James’s magic ramen recipe three times this week (recipe testing for this site has given us license to do some really weird and glorious things to our food consumption). I could have it again. Like, tonight. I love it. There’s something about the simplicity of the flavors – there are a few different ingredients that contribute to the rich, flavorful broth, but really, there’s nothing too ornate or laborious about making this dish. Mostly, its letting the natural tastes of the fresh vegetables and simply seared beef come through. The broth is, for us, perfectly hearty, salty, with just enough heat (okay, it has just the right amount of heat for me. James has a higher tolerance for spiciness than I do, so he adds some more sriracha or hot sauce on top with the other garnishes).

The other thing that I love about this recipe is how quickly it comes together. This means that I don’t feel guilty about asking James to make it for us yet again – once the vegetables are chopped and the meat is prepped, it takes about five minutes for the broth to come together and for everything to cook. If you wanted things soupier and softer it would take a bit longer, but I love the blend of textures that come from the soft noodles and bok choi, chewy beef, and crunchy peas and bean sprouts.

 

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